PANAJI: Spiritual circuits, temple trails, flights to prominent destinations in tier 2 cities, a structure in honor of Lord Parshuram, promotion of local festivals and marketing campaigns to document the cultural history of Goa – these are among the initiatives planned by the Goa government Goa to promote the coastal state as a premier ‘spiritual destination’.
Tourism Department officials said that Goa is largely seen as a ‘sun, sand, sea’ destination and the government has recently been working on plans to add another layer to this perception and encourage tourists to explore Goa ‘beyond the beaches”.
In May this year, the Goa government and the Uttarakhand government signed an MoU aimed at promoting tourism in the two states with “special focus on spiritual circuits, wellness and eco-tourism”. A direct flight between Goa and Dehradun was started as part of the initiative.
“Goa is known as Dakshin Kashi. To bridge the travel gap between Uttarkashi and Dakshinkashi… first, we are focusing on improving connectivity through direct flights to tier 2 tourist destinations like Uttarakhand, Nagpur, Guwahati, Nashik, Amritsar, Kashi and Varanasi. This will attract tourists to Goa and facilitate the exchange of cultures and traditions,” said Goa Tourism Minister Rohan Khaunte.
He said the department would soon announce a plan to promote tourism to develop “spiritual circuits”, which would include temple trails across the state and plans to promote yoga, wellness and eco-tourism.
The state has signed an MoU with Temple Connect to promote spiritual tourism, he said.
A one-day conference is planned later this month where the government will engage with social media influencers and stakeholders in the tourism industry for a possible partnership to develop such spiritual experiences and circuits, officials said.
The state is also focusing on promoting local festivals to showcase Goa’s cultural heritage and attract tourists and change the state’s image of being primarily a ‘party destination’.
“Over the past few months we have celebrated traditional Goan festivals like Sao Joao, Chikhal Khalo and Bomderas. For the upcoming Shiv Jayanti festival, there are plans to organize the festival in six cities across the state… We need to promote these festivals. This story needs to be told. Through a documentary or a campaign, the story needs to be unearthed…so that the next generation can learn about Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s contribution to the state in the struggle against the Portuguese,” Khaunte said.
Another plan to capitalize on the mythology surrounding the state’s origins, which is in its nascent stages, is a proposal to build an iconic ‘Bow and Arrow’ structure at Mandrem, North Goa, to commemorate the Lord’s legacy Parshuram. A tourism department official said, “The story goes that Lord Parsuram shot an arrow into the Arabian Sea and parted the seas, which created the coastal state of Goa. Land for the proposal has been identified near natural rock formations at Mandrem Beach but is in the early stages.”